Parental leave

Time off to care for your child


"Unpaid leave which can be requested in addition to other family leave entitlements."


"Parental leave can also be used to care for children aged 5-18."

Often underused or misunderstood, parental leave can be an important way of enabling staff to take extra time away from the office for the purposes of childcare. 

Please speak with your HR Partner or Adviser if you have any questions about parental leave that aren't addressed either here or in the Parental Leave Policy. 

What is parental leave?

Parental leave is a period of unpaid leave which can be requested to look after a child or make arrangements for the child's welfare. What's more, parental leave can also be used to care for children aged 5-18. 

How long is a period of parental leave? 

Parental leave is a maximum of 18 weeks per child - if an employee moves to a different employer, any parental leave taken 'moves' with them. Within any one year, an employee can take up to four weeks' parental leave, which could be:

  • one complete block of four weeks, or
  • several separate one week blocks, or
  • a number of shorter working weeks. 

When is parental leave suitable? 

People use parental leave for all kinds of situations that relate to caring for their child. For example, parental leave enables a parent (or parents) to be with their child during the early stages of new childcare arrangements, or to accompany their child to a planned hospital stay. For others, parental leave enables them to spend more time with their child and reach a better balance between their work and family commitments. 

What's the process for requesting parental leave? 

There is a standard process for requesting parental leave, which is also set out in the Parental Leave Policy.

The employee can request a period of parental leave by writing to their manager (by email is fine), setting out the start and end dates for their proposed leave. The employee should give this notice at least 21 days before the start of the leave period. Where it's not possible to give 21 days' notice (e.g. if the child is born prematurely), the employee should let their manager know as soon as possible. 

How should a request for parental leave be assessed?  

When the manager receives the employee's request, they may ask for evidence to support the request. This could be the child's birth certificate (or certificate of adoption). If the employee is relatively new to the School, their manager could also ask whether any parental leave was taken under the previous employer. 


How much flexibility is there in how I can take parental leave?  

While parental leave is often taken in blocks (for example, one week at a time), you can also ask to work shorter working weeks over a period of time, with the agreement of your line manager. Line managers are encouraged to be as flexible as possible when receiving requests, so please do speak with your manager to agree a suitable arrangement.   

 What happens during a period of parental leave?

You continue to accrue your statutory paid holiday entitlement during a period of parental leave, but not your contractual paid holiday entitlement. 

In line with the rules of the School's recognised pension schemes, you will have the option of making pension contributions to cover the period of parental leave when you return to work. 

How do I return to work after parental leave?

You don't need to give specific notice of your return to work date - you just need to turn up for work on the date you've previously agreed with your line manager. 

Depending on the duration of the parental leave, it may be helpful for the manager to have a quick discussion with you on your first day back to update you on any developments. 


Where can I find out more?

There are a number of resources out there covering parental leave.

The UK Government's webpage provides an overview of the parental leave process as well as guidance including entitlement, eligibility, and a summary of the circumstances in which parental leave might be delayed. 

Also, the ACAS website is a useful resource covering parental leave and other types of family leave.